My choice for best book about football

Re: My choice for best book about football

Postby Bob Gill » Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:19 pm

Bryan wrote:I thought it would be "Pro Football Trivia", amirite?


Nah, too trivial. Besides, all that guy's books waste too much time on minor leagues.
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Re: My choice for best book about football

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Thu Oct 14, 2021 11:47 am

This is a top 10 I did for another board several years ago:

1. The Sunday Game: At the Dawn of Professional Football by Keith McClellan

2. Home & Away: The Rise and Fall of Professional Football on the Banks of the Ohio, 1919-1934 by Carl M. Becker

3. The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present by David S. Neft, Richard M. Cohen, Rick Korch

4. Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football by Robert W. Peterson

5. Pro Football Championships Before the Super Bowl by Joseph S. Page

6. The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays by Ron Jaworski

7. Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship by David Fleming

8. Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement by John Carroll

9. The Columbus Panhandles: A Complete History of Pro Football's Toughest Team, 1900-1922 by Chris Willis

10. The Scrapbook History of Pro Football by Richard Cohen, Jordan Deutsch, & David Neft


If I really had to separate out what my interests are v. the idea of an objective "best single book", I'd have to say either Breaker Boys or the Pollard bio. Here are some additional thoughts on the books in the list I wrote today:

1,2,5, and 9 are about specific topics that are of interest to me. I'd still argue each is excellent, but I recognize my ranking of these is largely influenced by my interests. I could probably pick nits and say the organization of 1 by team rather than by season created some repetitiveness.

3 and 10 are reference books that you wouldn't necessarily read cover to cover. I include them, but could be persuaded to remove them depending on the criteria.

4 I often recommend to people who say things like "I want to learn about pre-war football" or whatever because its a really good historical overview that would allow the reader to then dig deeper on their own if they found an area of interest. And its a must read if you are interested in pre Ohio League because there just isn't much out there about that era. The book grabbed me right away by saying something like the first professional football was played at Ivy League colleges - definitely attention getting.

6 I think is really underrated. A good amount of Xs and Os told within the context of good stories, mini-bios, anecdotes, etc. The only book about "modern" football on my list.

7 This is the most "novel like" book, but I didn't find any issues with lack of accuracy as often happens with the novel style of writing. I would consider ranking it first because it checks so many boxes - a fast easy read that is historically accurate and could really pull someone in who didn't have a previous appreciation for football history or even football for that matter. I was always surprised no one made a movie out of it.

8 This is my only bio. There are of course lots of great bios that are worth reading and I've read a lot of them, but what's unique to me about this one is it covers the football history related to Pollard's life so well like the Anthracite League, etc., includes references to PFRA articles as well as what is one of my favorite single passages - when Pollard showed up at the cigar/smoke shop in Akron - I felt like I was there. Just an amazing book, yet interestingly I did not care for the Grange bio by the same author at all.

Chris Willis did a top 100 several years ago that was great. I read several books based on his list that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. He didn't include any of his own similar to how Mel Hein chose Bulldog Turner at center :D .

Here is the top 20:

https://nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/2016/03/top-100-pro-football-books-of-all-time_20.html
Last edited by TanksAndSpartans on Sat Oct 16, 2021 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My choice for best book about football

Postby Ronfitch » Sat Oct 16, 2021 1:05 am

In addition to those already mentioned here, Cliff Christl and Don Langenkamp's "Sleepers, Busts and Franchise-Makers" is a great idea that is a great book.
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Re: My choice for best book about football

Postby Sonny9 » Thu Oct 21, 2021 7:41 pm

I'm convinced.
Just got "A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football" and "The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football" a few minutes ago.
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